Sunday 3rd July 2022

2 KINGS 5, 6, 7 and 8

The supreme commander of Syria’s armed forces becomes very ill with an incurable disease; he hears that a Christian believer has a strong prophetic healing ministry, and he travels to meet him, in the hope of being healed.  The healing is fast and simple, and the commander is very grateful for the free gift and miraculous help that he has been given; he is also convinced that Jesus is really God – and so he becomes a believer!  What an amazing story that would be, in the light of modern problems in the Middle East and in Muslim states, where Christians are bitterly persecuted.  And yet, it already happened in Elisha’s day (840 BC), when Naaman was healed of Leprosy and the Lord healed him completely through Elisha’s word.  Aram was modern-day Syria, and its capital, Damascus.  The parallels are striking! 

It is tempting to complicate supernatural healing, with all kinds of rules and conditions; yet it all boils down to two or three actions:  God decides that he will heal someone, faith grows within someone connected with the person who needs healing (or in the person themselves), and someone acts on that faith and sees the healing come to reality.  Naaman found two things to be the most difficult in this story:  First, his pride expected Elisha to require him to do something difficult; then after the healing, he expected to ‘pay’ Elisha for his services.  But healing, when it comes, is both simple and free.  The same is true of God’s grace: simple and free.  When payment is requested or exacted, then things start to go wrong.  Gehazi’s greed was his downfall and he never recovered from his basic character flaws.

In the next chapter (2 Kings 6), Elisha does three major miracles:  Causing an iron axe-head to float, obtaining words of knowledge that revealed what the King of Aram was planning, and striking the enemy army with blindness – before killing them with kindness! 

Later, Samaria was again besieged by the King of Aram.  Inside the city, food was both scarce and expensive and the locals were even turning to cannibalism.  Elisha, however, prophesied that by the next day, normal food prices would resume.  God supernaturally lifted the siege by scaring the attacking army almost to death, and the absence was discovered by a group of social misfits with a conscience.  “What we are doing is not right.  This is a day of good news, and we are keeping it to ourselves.”  (2 Kings 7:9.)  Are we doing the same in our day? 

Finally, in today’s reading, there is a happy ending for the Shunammite woman whose son had been restored to life by Elisha; she also had all her lands and property restored to her by the King of Israel, triggered by a supernatural series of ‘co-incidences’.  (Most co-incidences are of God’s making – maybe all of them.) 

The time had come for Elisha to carry out one of the three tasks originally given to Elijah at Mount Horeb: the anointing of Hazael, who did not live up to that anointing, but first usurped the Aram throne, killing its king, resulted later in causing intense misery and persecution in Israel.

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